We do things a little differently at The Rare Barrel, and we don’t have a brewhouse. Instead, we rely on renting time on our friends’ brewing systems around the Bay Area. On brew days, we hop in our box truck and travel to one of the breweries with our recipe, specialty malts, and two 15BBL transport tanks ready to brew!
Overall, we’ve been very happy with the process so far. Scheduling brews, transporting sterile wort, and the quality wort have all been up to our standards. We haven’t tested positive for any infections on our wort stability testing, and we are very happy with the way our barrels are progressing. Each batch has come home to us safe and sound. All that positive momentum had to come to an end sometime though…and that momentum came to a halt with Batch #13.
Jay had just returned from a successful brew, so Alex and Brad helped him unload the truck, as usual. Alex forklifted one of the tanks from the truck, and proceeded to set it down in the parking lot. However, when the tank was 6” above the ground, this happened…
Did the forklift puncture the tank? Did a pipe break? Why are we flooding the parking lot right now? Will this ever stop???
We tried everything we could to stop the flow, but couldn’t figure out why the valve that would stop this madness wasn’t closing. After a little maneuvering, we got the handle loose and closed the valve. After the fact, we realized that the threaded piping on the tank had rotated 90 degrees in transportation, so that our piping was the first thing to touch the ground, not the legs of the tank. With 5,000 lbs. of wort resting on the pipe, it didn’t stand a chance. We lost about 150 gallons of beer in the parking lot. Our neighbors joked about grabbing their beer steins and having a party in the lot.
Mistakes happen…especially with new companies. We’ve already made our fair share, and this won’t be the last, but this is the first one that really cost us some beer. While we originally intended to re-use the yeast from this batch to ferment future batches and top off some barrels, we’ve decided to release this beer on its own. This beer has a funk’d up backstory, so we’ve decided to stay funky with this beer by adding multiple strains of Brettanomyces and bacteria to it.